Meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko held a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Minsk on 10 April. The Russian defense minister arrived in the Belarusian capital following the recent agreements between the two heads of state.
“When parting with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] after our latest negotiations we agreed that you and your experts will come to Belarus and we will sit down with you to discuss the security issues of Belarus. You know that I raised this issue at the Supreme State Council meeting. But before that, we had discussed it with Vladimir Vladimirovich,” the President said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Western countries do not comply with the agreements on security guarantees, which were given within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum in exchange for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons. “I am talking about the time after 1994, the famous Budapest Memorandum, where all the Western powers and Russia swore to provide full security to Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus. You know, of course, that Western states have trampled all these treaties, agreements and statements and there is no security. It referred to economic security among other things. What kind of economic security is there if they impose sanctions against us, Russia?” the Belarusian leader said. “I raised this issue in talks with the President of Russia. He fully supported me. He said we needed to revise all our treaties and agreements – those of Belarus and Russia - to see what legal act of interstate nature should be adopted now to fully ensure the security of Belarus,” he added.
“In general, it was said at the talks that in case of aggression against Belarus the Russian Federation protects Belarus as its own territory. We need such [security] guarantees,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko once again stressed that the West had forgotten its obligations. “What security guarantees can the United States give us? None. Except for spurring aggression against us, as we see it now. We need full security guarantees from our brotherly Russia. So when parting with Putin, we discussed this issue once again. We agreed that you and your experts would come here today and we would discuss this issue in the context of the situation that is taking shape around us today, including the special military operation. I am grateful to you for coming here. I think that today we will discuss all the issues that relate to our bilateral relations and the situation in Belarus and Russia,” the President said.
Another topic that Aleksandr Lukashenko discussed with Sergei Shoigu was the combat training and cohesion of the joint group of forces, which includes Russian military stationed in Belarus. "I am grateful to you that despite all the difficulties you keep several thousand Russian servicemen deployed here. We have contributed as far as necessary. Together with your officers we are training these guys, improving their combat cohesion. We train them as we should. We must keep our guards up. You can see that Poland, Lithuania are beginning to take action in our direction. Therefore, this is a good help and support for the Belarusian army, which defends the Union State on the western flank," the President added.
Sergei Shoigu, on his part, confirmed that he came to Belarus following the agreements of the two Presidents. “I have the appropriate authority and instructions from our President, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. I would like to express special thanks to your Defense Ministry, and to you personally. Five Belarusian firing ranges have been allocated. They are well-equipped. Moreover, a sufficient number of instructors, officers of the Belarusian Armed Forces, are involved in training our military personnel. This group of forces is indeed a large one. Today we will consider all the issues related to its further stay and training here and, probably, the expansion of the framework that you and Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] have discussed,” the minister said.